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Guest Viewpoint:  A Day in the Life of a Nutrition Services Director

Guest Viewpoint: A Day in the Life of a Nutrition Services Director

This torn-out page from a school FSD's Day-Planner found its way into our editorial in-box recently. Sound familiar?

Editors Note: This torn-out page from a school FSD's day-planner notebook found its way into our editorial in-box recently. Sound familiar?…

  • Get to work before the sun is up. The early list: troubleshoot our POS computer problems, deal with the water main break that happened last night, get the coffee going early so staff will not be grouchy.

  • Call supervisor of building and grounds at home and get him out of bed to find out when the water problem will be fixed. He of course has no idea, since you just woke him up.

  • Call the water department. After 15 minutes, they answer, because it is before the sun is up, you know. They did not know there was a water main break…Oh, yeah, there was one last night. It's not fixed?

  • Call the custodian at the building to see if the water department is working in the street on the break. If yes, convince custodian to go ask them when the problem will be fixed. Wait for the custodian to come back. The workers don't have a clue; they are waiting for their supervisor and it's time for their break.

  • Pick up donuts, drive to water main work site. Give the water guys the donuts and ask them to have it fixed in an hour. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But you get a donut out of the deal.

  • Drive back to office. The sun is just coming up. Therefore, your employees have woken up. This could be a good thing: they might come to work. Wait — there are two new voicemails. Good news: only two have called off today.

  • Ask admin to find a sub, but the regulars don't want to work today. Because? It's nice out. It Friday. It's too cold. It's time to go shopping. Oh, but they still do want be considered for a job with benefits. Ask admin to call them back and beg one of them to work because I don't want to run dish machine. Hope I have flat shoes in the car.

  • Sit back and relax for a minute. The sun is up, most employees are coming in, and the water main break is fixed. Not bad — you've only been here two hours.

  • It's 8 a.m. and the phone is starting to ring. “Can you tell me what's for lunch today” It's a parent. They can't read the newsletter or go to the district's website? Really? Since you have them on the phone, you tell them all the neat things the Nutrition Department does, like having the menu on the website, along with the nutrient analysis, free/reduced lunch form, info on the POS. Maybe the parent would like to sub for Nutrition Services? This being a rare parent, she thanks you for your time.

  • Sit at desk and glow in your success. Okay, your 10 seconds are up! A kitchen calls. The hamburger patties they received are actually beef/onion burgers. The label says “hamburger patties,” so how were they to know?

  • Put a voicemail out for the other kitchens to check their patties and let you know.

  • Call distributor. Explain today's problem. While on phone, ask about the invoice credits you need — the ones from three months ago.

  • It's about lunchtime, so you go to one of the buildings to eat. Mac ‘n cheese made with government cheese. Heaven.

  • Check in at office. Principal wants info on how long it takes to put students through the line. Promise to send info.

  • Watch employees serve and cashier the line. Tell them what a great job they do. Eat mac ‘n cheese.

  • Ruin students' day by sitting with them to eat. Ask them what they like about the cafeteria. Tell the little ones chocolate milk comes from chocolate cows. (Next week you can tell them it's not true, but it's fun to watch them think about it.)

  • Get back to office. Note says a sales rep is coming in. Message is they have The Perfect Food for your program.

  • Two salespeople arrive (they always come in twos). The Perfect Food turns out to be chocolate covered peas. Interesting. They can't tell me what product costs or how it counts in the meal pattern. However, they do know it's a veggie.

  • Take the chocolate covered peas around to let others taste. Don't say what they are. (Remember — they liked the cherry hamburgers ‘till you told them.)

  • Back at the office — the superintendent needs to see you.

  • Superintendant had call from Channel 5. They want to know why we have a soda machine. Remind him the soda machines belong to the school, not Nutrition Services. Great time to talk about why we should get rid of them. (Like that would happen!)

  • Get back to office. Your graduate student is waiting there.

  • Great way to get work done: get a grad student. Looks good to Super also. Go over assignments you've given him.

  • Time for safety and security committee meeting. Whoopee, we plan another evacuation drill. At least they aren't going to do it during lunch. Since police chief is there, talk with him about counterfeit bill received at one building.

  • Time to go home. Evening starts out well but at 11 p.m. the phone rings. Never a good sign. It's the superintendent. He's closing schools tomorrow. Spend the next hour trying to contact employees and vendors.

  • Who wouldn't love this job? Working with healthy kids who love you because you are the cookie lady. It doesn't get better than that.

Beth Spinks is Director of Nutrition Services at Berea, OH City Schools.

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